Alaska’s Northern National Parks – Morehouse Private

GUIDED ALASKA Private

Alaska’s Northern National Parks – Morehouse Private

DATES

July 17, 2022 - July 22, 2022

REGION

Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk National Parks

TRIP COST

$8,900

calendar

DATES

July 17, 2022 - July 22, 2022
region

REGION

Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk National Parks
price

TRIP COST

$8,900

Alaska’s Northern National Parks are true wilderness parks; rarely visited and stunningly beautiful. Our National Parks trip visits Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Bering Land Bridge, and Cape Krusenstern National Park Units all in a single fun filled trip.

TRIP DETAILS

Gates of the Arctic National Park is 8.5 million acres of unspoiled and largely untraveled wilderness. The National Park Service is justly proud of its “crowning jewel”.  The park is beautiful and diverse. As one travels from south to north, boreal forest gives way to broad green tundra basins, vast glacial lakes and severe granite spires. Beyond the continental divide the sky opens and the seemingly endless tundra stretches beyond the horizon.

We will spend the first 2-1/2 days of our trip in the wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park. We will land north of the spruce forests in a landscape of mountains and tundra. Clear lakes feed fast, rocky rivers. Rugged and barren peaks stand sentinel above the verdant tundra and signs of wildlife are everywhere. We will camp by the river and spend our days exploring on foot. Many of the nearby ridges can be easily ascended for grand views of unnamed mountains. We can explore side valleys with waterfalls and hidden grottoes. With any luck, caribou will be in the area and we will get to watch them and their attendant predators thriving in North America’s largest wilderness. The scenery is stunning and the hiking is limitless.

Located entirely north of the Arctic Circle, Kobuk Valley National Park is the least visited park in the America. Though nearly totally unknown, the park is full of wildlife and scenic wonders. Kobuk Dunes is like the Sahara but with wolves, moose and cranes. Onion Portage is an archaeological district with evidence of human use for the past 12,000 years! The Kobuk River is a magnificent river rich with wildlife and broad vistas.

On the third day of our trip we will fly  southwest into Kobuk Valley National Park and arrive at the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, a sea of sand in the arctic wilderness. The dunes were formed during the last ice age as winds tore through the region and deposited sand south of the Kobuk River in an enormous mountain basin. This is the largest dune complex in arctic North America and it is both fascinating and beautiful. The eastern side of the dunes is more stable and vegetated. There are ponds, wolf dens, and fingers of spruce forest which extend in to the dunes. On the leeward side, the dunes get larger and larger with sand ridges over 200 feet tall! There are vast areas where a hiker cannot see the edge of the dunes anywhere and one expects to see a camel or caravan until a Sandhill Crane flies by with its prehistoric sounding call, or a moose trots off over the sand. On the west side of the dunes, sand blows off the sand ridges and into the woods and creek. It is easy to visualize how the forest is being swallowed by the advancing dunes.

Cape Krusenstern National Monument lies right on the shore of the Chukchi Sea, north of Kotzebue Alaska and in addition to its scenic beauty and stunning location, it is known for its archaeological resources. Inupiat people (Eskimo) have been using this stretch of coast for hunting and fishing continuously for the last 5,000 years. Layers of human occupation including current subsistence camps stretch along the coast.

Inland we regularly find Muskoxen. The hiking on headlands and in the limestone hills above the beaches is outstanding with views across the Arctic Ocean nearly to the Russian Coast in Chukotka. In addition to abundant wildlife and good hiking, 150 species of birds come to Krusenstern each summer to breed in the wetlands and on the dry slopes.

Cape Krusenstern isn’t your typical beach vacation but this stretch of coast is beautiful, wild, and extremely interesting.

The Bering Land Bridge looms large in our imaginations as a place of human migration and, in days long past, habitat for mammoths and tigers. The area is still rich in wildlife and a wonderful area to explore. Join us for two nights where hot springs emerge from the tundra and ice age relics like musk oxen abound.

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is a volcanic landscape on the Seward Peninsula, north of Nome, Alaska. Rocky spires jut from the green tundra, volcanic craters shelter musk oxen from the coastal winds and hot springs feed rivers teeming with fish. This is likely the first place where people stepped foot in North America and it is largely unchanged since. From our base at Serpentine Hot Springs we spend our time hiking and birding in this remnant of the Bering Land Bridge.

Serpentine Hot Springs is famed for the volcanically heated waters flowing through the bathhouse and for the many musk oxen that tend to use the area in the summer. But in our opinion, the best thing about the area is the incredible hiking among the long ridges and granite tors. The green tundra and the gray rocks make a somewhat surreal landscape.

Last updated: January 11, 2021

Itinerary

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

July 16

 After seeing the sights in Kotzebue and collecting park stamps at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center,  meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 6:45 pm in Kotzebue.

July 17

Fly from the Inupiat village of Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea up the Kobuk River and then head north into Gates of the Arctic National Park. Landing on a gravel bar near a clear fast river we will unload and set up camp. We spend the afternoon and evening settling in, learning the birds and plants, and planning the next day’s adventure. (Please note that in recent years our landing strip has been just outside the Park Boundary. We are looking for a new one within the Park but still within striking distance of Gates of the Arctic, but there is some chance you’ll camp near the Park Boundary and will hike to the Park. From the ground it is all spectacular wilderness!)

July 18

A full day to explore and enjoy Gates of the Arctic. Your desires help govern our activities. We can hike to a lake and try some fishing, ascend the nearest peak and watch Dall Sheep grazing, or plan a big loop hike, up one drainage and down the other. With 24 hours of daylight and more wilderness than we could explore in a lifetime, our energy and imagination are the only limits to what our day in the wilderness will hold.

July 19

After packing up our camp, we await the pilot’s return. We will fly south right into the heart of the Kobuk Dunes. Once we unload we may have to carry our gear a ways to access fresh drinking water but then we can go and explore the dunes, springs and sand flats.

July 20

A full day to enjoy the dunes. Moose, wolves and fox all frequent the dunes as do a great number of birds. The sand constantly shifts and swirls. There are springs coming right out of the sand and great expanses where nothing seems to live. The hiking is soft in places but great distances can be covered if you are so inclined. Swim in the ponds, look for wolf dens, slide down the tallest dunes, or just stretch out your beach towel and parasol.

July 21

Weather permitting, our bush plane will arrive to fly us to the Arctic Coast at Cape Krusenstern National Monument. We will enjoy an afternoon beach-combing and hiking along the coast. Muskoxen are often seen on the tundra and the birding in the lagoon can be outstanding.

July 22

It is a busy day. We get to spend the morning at Cape Krusenstern. Mid-day the pilot returns one more time and we wing south, down the Arctic Coast to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. After flying for an hour and a half we’ll land in a verdant valley with a steaming creek and all manner of volcanic rocks jutting from the tundra. We will spend the afternoon enjoying Serpentine hot-spring and the mountains nearby. As the evening approaches we will fly back up the coast to Kotzebue where the trip concludes.

Michael listened to our descriptions of what we wanted in a trip and investigated the possibility of making that sort of trip happen. Unlike some other guide services, he was attuned to what we were saying and did not outright say he could not accommodate us because Arctic Wild only provided trips like X, Y, or Z. In my opinion, the major difference between Arctic Wild and the 4 other guide services I talked to was that Michael tried to design a trip meeting our trip objectives and wishes.

- Rochelle , Missouri, USA

DETAILS

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Round-trip airfare from Kotzebue, Alaska to the National Parks and back

Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, base camp tent

Safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Non-camp lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list

Gratuity for guide(s)

Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild

WEATHER & BUGS

Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic.  It should be hot at this time of year, but it could just as easily be cool and rainy.  Temperatures will range from the 20s to 70s. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we get plenty of sunny weather this time of the year. Mosquitoes could be an issue in Gates of the Arctic, so bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent.

RECOMMENDED READING

Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner

Last Light Breaking by Nick Jans

The Brooks Range by Alaska Geographic

Alaska’s Brooks Range by John Kauffmann

More Alaska reading is available at our bookstore

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
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Eileen - Canning River